Tracked Down

Find some of Boston’s commuter history—underground

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y the late 19th century, Boston’s narrow, crooked streets were so clogged it was said pedestrians could walk to work on the roofs of the electric trolley cars that were lined up stuck in traffic. That’s what prompted the city to build the first subway system in the Western Hemisphere, opened in 1897. Two of the vintage streetcars that carried generations of commuters are on display on an abandoned siding in the Boylston Street subway station of what is now called the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. You’ve doubtless seen them if you ride the Green Line, but we’re here to tell you that one is No. 5734, a boxy 1924 model, and the other the cigar-shaped No. 3295, designed in 1936. Both have been restored to the color and condition of their long years in daily service, which ended in the 1970s. You can see them for the price of your fare.

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Boston’s subway opened 34 years after London’s but seven years before New York’s.

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